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Sharing Stories-Strengthening AR Communities

Each month, the Community, Professional Economic Development (CPED) unit will explore a different theme related to our mission, vision, and the work being accomplished to develop communities across the state.

A great way to capture this work is through stories: stories of impact, stories of change, stories of challenge. This can be the work of individuals, businesses, organizations, and UADA professionals that are striving to improve the quality of life for all Arkansans. We will capture and share these stories via social media, our newsletter, and other forms of communication.  

Share your community story and learn from the stories of others, as you help co-create a new community online—a space that preserves experiences, sheds light on challenges, fosters new insights, and hopefully inspires others.

What is CPED's Mission & Vision?


We are committed to building resilient and inclusive communities while enhancing the wellbeing of Arkansans.  


We strengthen the capacity of individuals, businesses, organizations, and UADA to build inclusive and sustainable communities through research-based resources and processes. 

What do we mean by “strengthen the capacity” or capacity building?

When we talk about ways we strengthen capacity, we support a community or individual’s ability to grow and flourish. Capacity building is an investment in the future sustainability of a community or organization through the impact of its people.

How Can You Share Your Story?

There are four different ways to share your story with us: narrative text, video recording, voice recording, or pictures/captions. Pick the format you are most comfortable with or the one that best captures the essence of your experience.

  1. narrative text - under 300 words as Word doc or text in form field.
  2. video recording - under 60 seconds. You can use your phone or Zoom to record.
  3. voice recording -  Please try to keep your audio clip at or under 60 seconds. You can use your phone or record your audio using zoom.
  4. pictures/captions - For each picture, you share, be sure to add a description (caption) in the text box(es) below to provide readers with context. Feel free to submit as many “story submissions” as you want.

Please Note: We ask that you only upload one file type per story. You can share up to five different stories using this form by having one story per format. 

Have a Story but Feel Stumped?

If you aren’t sure if you have a story related to one of our themes, feel free to review the prompting  questions below. Each theme will have a set of questions you can use to reflect and help frame your story. These questions are designed to simply guide and are not required. 

Check Out Our Monthly Themes & Share Your Story!

renewal in your community

Submit Your Story Now!

Finding Purpose in Return: What Does it Mean to Turn Towards Renewal?

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines renew as “restore to freshness, vigor, or perfection” (Merriam Webster, 2022.) After two years facing the COVID-19 pandemic, communities, individuals, businesses, organizations, and UADA professionals are finding new ways to envision our purpose, restore its freshness, engage stakeholders and partners, and explore creative approaches to our work. (BOLD)

Everyone was changed by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way—professionally or personally. We seek to capture and share ways Arkansans are looking anew at their work, envisioning new ways to engage volunteers and community members, and acting boldly in ways that create lasting change.

Stories From the Ground Up: What Does Renewal Look Like?

In communities, stories of renewal may look like finding new ways to connect and celebrate each other or adapting community favorite activities to make them work in a world that has been changed by COVID-19. 

Russellville, AR 

For example, the Main Street Russellville program has taken a community favorite event, their quarterly Art Walks, and used them to inspire new events that fit into a world changed by COVID-19. These Art Walks, which by their nature are outdoor, were socially distanced events that featured local artists, food trucks, and downtown businesses in the streets of downtown Russellville. While the city was not able to host their traditional Christmas events in 2020, Main Street Russellville, The City of Russellville, and the Chamber of Commerce partnered to host The Holiday Glow Festival. The festival was a way to take holiday traditions like lighting contests, hot chocolate, and local shopping outside into a safer atmosphere. The Holiday Glow Festival has been held the last two years and has quickly become a fan favorite in its own right.

UADA County Agents 

For the UADA community, renewal is the great work of county agents like Lez Walz and Brad McGinley who are looking for new ways to engage their community in programming--reaching out in conversation with community members to understand what is important to them and how they can bring their interests, passions, and expertise to create a vibrant, vital place to live and work.

We hope you share your own and take-away someone else’s story or example that touches your own experience, inspires you for action, and deepens your understanding of the work of UADA’s community, professional, and economic development.

Questions to Ponder…

  1. How is your community finding new ways to envision its purpose, restore its freshness, engage stakeholders and partners, and explore creative ways to build community?
  2. How is your community celebrating the people that work and live there?
  3. How have priorities shifted in your community? How have your own priorities shifted?
  4. How do you see your community incorporating new ideas while honoring or maintaining traditions of the past?
  5. What else do you want to share about experiences, challenges, and triumphs with renewal—both personally or professionally?

Submit Your Story Now!

For questions or other matters, please e-mail Emily Smith at or call at 603-387-1584.